One of several gateways to Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the small city of Townsend bills itself as "The Peaceful Side of the Smokies." With a distinctly laid-back vibe and an abundance of activities nearby, our vacation rentals in Townsend are hidden gems, perfect for easygoing travelers who want to experience the unspoiled beauty of the Smoky Mountains.
Townsend lies on the banks of the Little River, not too far from the North Carolina border, about 35 miles south of Knoxville. The city of Gatlinburg, TN, which is also considered a gateway to the Smoky Mountains, is a little less than 25 miles to the east.
Also nearby is the charming town of Pigeon Forge, where you'll find commercial attractions such as the Dollywood amusement park and the Dixie Stampede.
Although Townsend is small in size, it packs a lot of activities into two square miles. Must-see museums include the Great Smoky Mountain Heritage Center, which covers the cultural history of East Tennessee, and the Little River Railroad & Lumber Museum. The Tuckaleechee Caverns just southwest of town are also worth a visit.
In Great Smoky Mountains National Park, stop by Cades Cove for a self-guided tour of a wide variety of well-preserved buildings dating back to the early 1800s. Cades Cove is also an excellent place to view wildlife, such as black bears, white-tailed deer, and coyotes.
After a good night's sleep in your vacation rental, lace up your hiking boots and pick a nearby trail - regardless of length or difficulty, the views are sure to be beautiful. Looking for a slightly different perspective? Try exploring the park on horseback, or, if you're feeling truly daring, check out the views from a zip line!
Smithsonian Magazine named the county seat of Sevierville, located 21 miles northeast of Townsend, one of 20 Small Towns to Visit in 2015. Spend a few hours exploring the historic downtown, then head over to the Tennessee Museum of Aviation - if you're lucky, you may see one of the 20th-century aircraft take an impromptu flight.
In nearby Gatlinburg, family-friendly activities are available year-round at the Ober Gatlinburg Ski Area & Amusement Park. Ride the Aerial Tramway to the top and enjoy ice skating, skiing, snowboarding, an alpine slide, supervised wildlife encounters, and water raft rides.
Great Smoky Mountains National Park is easily accessed from your vacation rental and provides a lot of activities to fill up your day. Pack a picnic lunch and spend a few hours exploring on foot, by bike, or even with your car. Wildflowers, cemeteries, historic buildings, or wildlife - there's no telling what you'll discover!
For an accurate glimpse of the culture and history of East Tennessee, you can't go wrong with a stay in one of our Townsend vacation rentals. Regardless of how you plan to spend your days, Townsend's easygoing nature and great location will have you planning your return trip in no time.
Photo Credit: Brent Moore via Flickr